I am so pleased to welcome Elaine Orr to Escape With Dollycas today.
Author Interests and Cozy Mysteries
by Elaine L. Orr
Mysteries can have plots as complex as a Terence Faherty’s Owen Keane novels or feature places as exotic as the Inspector Singh Asian locales. Cozy mysteries are complex, but they differ in that small-town setting and the ‘ordinary’ milieu are often as important as the crime itself.
Rarely do cozies take place on what a noir mystery might call the mean streets of New York (or Los Angeles or Chicago).
Readers enjoy a particular set of cozy mystery characters because of their profession, hobbies, or pets – something that garners interest besides the how the murderer got in and out of a locked room without being seen. I enjoy Sparke Abbey’s Pampered Pet series because I like pet antics, and Meg Muldoon’s Christmas River series because I appreciate that town and its varied shops and characters.
It’s dangerous to name favorite series – I like so many of them and there are many yet to discover.
I developed the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series with a set of friends from diverse walks of life at the Jersey shore. Some have oddball senses of humor, and several volunteer with hometown causes from time to time (think food pantry fundraisers). Why the shore? Because I love Atlantic coast beaches.
I also like professions that give characters wide-ranging ways to get in trouble. In the Jolie series, she’s a real estate appraiser who is in a lot of vacant (or at least empty) houses. She has ties to the business community, which is what keeps small towns going.
As I created a second series, I knew I wanted a small Iowa town with a focus on rural life. And humorous perspectives, of course. Again, I migrated toward water, creating the fictional town of River’s Edge along the Des Moines River in Southeast Iowa.
The River’s Edge series features Melanie Perkins, a landscaper who sometimes digs up more than she bargains for.
Though I hadn’t anticipated writing two series set near water, I should have. I once owned a house in Maryland with an A-frame living room/dining room combo. I probably had fifteen photos on that huge wall.
After a year, I realized all had water in them. Is that weird, or what? Not bizarre to have such a sprinkling, so to speak, but to have done it without planning.
Writers create settings or professions that are very different from their lives. I think we can also be drawn to those that, at their core, represent what we like. Or perhaps wish our lives were similar to.
That’s not to say I want to spend all my own time in small towns. I’ve traveled widely for work and pleasure, and many of the people I’ve met along the way have been fodder for characters (or at least their behavior) in my books.
However, there is a special camaraderie in smaller communities. Those near water can have distinct challenges. The Des Moines River has left its banks too often, especially during the 1993 and 2008 flood seasons. Who thought flooding was a season? The Jersey shore does not have as many hurricanes as North Carolina or Florida, but when they make it up the Atlantic they may bring catastrophe.
A decent plot is essential for a good mystery, but why not learn about a hobby or part of the country at the same time?
How? At a bookselling site, use the search box to type in “cozy mysteries with.” You’ll be surprised at what pops up without further prompting (ghosts, cats, dogs, and more). Even more varied is typing “cozy mysteries in small towns.”
With more than 100,000 books published a day on Amazon, many books correspond to your interests. If you like water, tranquil or not, I hope you enjoy the Jolie Gentil or Rivers Edge series.
“You’re fired!” Grouchy news publisher Hal Morris sends reporter Melanie Perkins packing for taking too many photos of flowers.
Panicked at being unemployed, she lands a job as a landscaper, but an ugly surprise greets her on her first day. A pile of mulch, a tangerine, and a stolen hoe cast suspicion on Melanie.
Melanie’s efforts to find a murderer instead put a target on her back. Some of the aim is coming from law enforcement, but they aren’t the ones who want to silence her permanently. Life along the Des Moines River in Iowa can be peaceful, but a murderer has no problem disturbing her tranquility.
In this, the first novel in beloved cozy mystery writer Elaine Orr’s new River’s Edge series, the author once again offers humor, believable characters and tight prose as she carries the reader to an exciting climax. Those who follow her Jolie Gentil series will find themselves right at home.
About The Author
Elaine L. Orr is the Amazon bestselling author of the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series, set at the Jersey shore. Behind the Walls was a finalist for the 2014 Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem Awards. The first book in Elaine’s River’s Edge cozy mystery series, From Newsprint to Footprints, debuted in late fall 2015. The second will follow in fall 2016. Elaine also writes plays and novellas. She also conducts presentations on electronic publishing and other writing-related topics. A member of Sisters in Crime, Elaine grew up in Maryland and moved to the Midwest in 1994. Learn more about her at www.elaineorr.com
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